Al Horford’s Impact On Celtics Immeasurable In Game 1 Of Finals

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Al Horford isn’t getting the credit he deserves for his role in the Boston Celtics’ win in Game 1 of the NBA Finals.

He was superb.

Horford’s usually not going to stuff the stat sheet, but when he does it becomes a topic of conversation. He got his flowers for knocking down seven threes against the Indiana Pacers in the Eastern Conference finals. We all remember his five-block performance against the Philadelphia 76ers last season.

It’s the nights like Game 1, though, where he fades into the background. We just want to know why.

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“Al has stepped up into that starting role — and at this stage in his career, being a centerpiece of us getting to The Finals is something that shouldn’t be overlooked,” Jayson Tatum said postgame, per league-provided video. “His presence out there on both ends of the floor — what he allows us to do offensively, dragging out the big men. We have had playoff games where Al has hit six or seven threes, but even if he doesn’t, the other team has to respect him as a shooter so it helps with our spacing.”

Horford finished with 10 points, seven boards and two blocks on Thursday, a fine enough performance in the box score, but one that was much more impactful to those who actually watched.

Tatum mentioned it in his postgame press conference, but the ability to help the Celtics space the floor is perhaps Horford’s best attribute. Dereck Lively II and Daniel Gafford have zero interest in leaving the paint, but they have no choice when Kristaps Porzingis and Horford are knocking down shots from beyond the arc.

Lively and Gafford can live down there on the offensive end, but not without living with the consequences — a.k.a. Horford’s elbow in their ribs.

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The Celtics were able to bring Porzingis off the bench because Horford is so steady, and in the time in which they were both on the floor, the latter would defend on the wing. How did he do? You can ask Luka Doncic, who finished 1-for-8 from the field when being guarded by the 38-year-old.

Horford isn’t going to win Finals MVP. He’s not even going to surpass the 30-minute mark at some points. He is going to play winning basketball, however, making an impact on both ends of the floor night in and night out.

“I can’t give Al enough credit for the impact that he’s had on this playoff run,” Tatum said. “Shoutout Al, man.

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